Left in the lurch by the religious right, Otzma Yehudit party set to go it alone

January 19, 2020
Ultranationalist slate led by activist-attorney Itamar Ben Gvir also includes mother of terror victim, ex-staffer for disqualified lawmaker and secular farmer from Golan Heights

Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit party presents his party list to the Central Elections committee at the Knesset in Jerusalem, January 15, 2020

Jacob Magid writes in Times of Israel, “After Jewish Home chairman Rafi Peretz reneged on a merger agreement with Otzma Yehudit and instead joined New Right in the Yamina alliance, the far-right party is expected to announce later this week whether it will move forward with an independent run in the upcoming March election.”

“Otzma Yehudit, composed of self-described disciples of the late extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, filed its slate of candidates moments before the Wednesday night filing deadline, but has since come under pressure from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other right-wing leaders to bow out rather than risk falling short of the electoral threshold and wasting tens of thousands of right-wing votes.”

“The party’s central committee was set to convene on Sunday evening to discuss how to best move forward and a final decision will be announced in the coming days. Otzma Yehudit chairman Itamar Ben Gvir told The Times of Israel that he believes his slate will remain in the race until the end.”

Otzma Yehudit candidates (From L-R) Tiran Zeituni, Meir Ben Hayun, Adva Biton, chairman Itamar Ben Gvir, Itshak Waserlauf and Yehuda Epstein pose for a photo after the party announces its slate

“In the previous election, in September, the faction received 83,600 votes, nearly 50,000 shy of the 3.25% of the national vote required to make it into the Knesset.” “This time around, the party is hoping to enlist additional votes from right-wingers turned off by the conduct over the past week of senior Yamina officials who deserted Ben Gvir at the last possible moment. (more…)

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